Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted May 21, 2020
After crude oil futures prices plunged into negative territory for a day last month, there was a good deal of speculation that the same thing could happen this month. Some even pointed to the April futures meltdown as a “doomsday” scenario for U.S. natural gas and oil.
Well, a number of things happened on the way to oil’s “doomsday.”
At the outset, let’s note that what happened with futures in April didn’t repeat this month. Oil futures prices for June delivery of West Texas Intermediate crude, whose contracts expired Tuesday, closed at $32.50 per barrel – about 300% higher than they did for those contracts a month ago. Let’s explore why.
John D. Siciliano
Posted May 20, 2020
Capt. Russell Holmes is the Center for Offshore Safety’s (COS) new director after serving for nearly three decades with the U.S. Coast Guard.
Holmes, who retired from the Coast Guard in 2020, takes over for Charlie Williams, who had led the center since 2012 after a long industry career. Holmes will be taking the center’s mission of offshore safety and environmental protection into its second decade of existence.
The center was created soon after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon incident in the Gulf of Mexico. Since then, the COS has enhanced the safety culture in offshore operations, while supporting federal regulations that mandate Safety and Environmental Management Systems (SEMS) at all operations on the Outer Continental Shelf.
Just prior to joining the center, Holmes served as the Coast Guard’s senior point of contact for offshore safety in the Gulf, overseeing marine inspection and investigation programs that ultimately support SEMS. As he explains in the Q&A below, Holmes says the industry’s professionalism and safety commitment matched his while he was serving as one of industry’s lead regulators.
Posted May 12, 2020
We’ve highlighted the way many Americans and different business sectors, including ours, have helped with relief efforts during the COVID-19 crisis (see here). We’ve also said that natural gas and oil will be leading players as our economy and communities recover.
We’re especially grateful for people on the front lines of the pandemic – doctors, nurses, hospital staffs, first responders, grocery store workers and others who are out there in public spaces every day. API’s new video, “Good Energy,” is our way of saying thanks for what they’re doing to help the rest of us through the crisis and a sign of our industry's commitment to keep supporting them.
Posted May 8, 2020
Some anti-industry voices – apparently not regular readers of this blog – probably missed Monday’s post discussing the strong link between the economy and energy from natural gas and oil.
Not surprisingly, these are the folks arguing that the current coronavirus-associated market downturn surely means the end is near for U.S. oil. Some have cheered the challenges industry faces, with one tweeting that natural gas and oil jobs (good-paying ones, I’ll add) belong in history’s rubbish bin, comparing them to two of the most odious occupations of the past. Well, no one’s going to confuse social media with a friendly game of bean bag, right?
The trouble with these arguments is they’re grounded purely in ideology and neglect that economic, energy, human progress and development go hand-in-hand. As noted in the earlier post, data and history indicate that while the U.S. natural gas and oil industry is working through significant COVID-19 challenges right now – along with a number of other business and industrial sectors – it is poised to power economic recovery as personal driving and commercial traffic increase (fuels), as businesses reopen (electricity) and as manufacturers ramp up operations (power/feedstocks).
Posted May 5, 2020
News reports of a “flotilla” of oil tankers from Saudi Arabia, sailing to the U.S. with more than 40 million barrels of crude oil in their holds for delivery this month, has many Americans questioning why the U.S. – the world’s largest oil and natural gas producer – imports any oil when oversupply associated with the government response to COVID-19 has a number of U.S. operators hurting financially.
Some think President Trump should send the oil fleet home or impose import tariffs. It’s a new chapter in an old debate over why the U.S. imports oil when our domestic production is among the globe’s leaders. In the case of this imported Saudi oil, the answer has much to do with the supply needs of the U.S. refining system.
Posted May 4, 2020
As some U.S. states and communities begin reopening, the COVID-19 threat to public health continues. Our industry stands ready to support safe and thoughtful plans to restart the economy and begin the national recovery from this historic pandemic.
When that recovery kicks in, it will be powered largely by natural gas and oil, here at home and around the globe – in the sense that recovery will mean increased personal driving, commercial transportation and air travel will require more fuels; reopening businesses will need more electricity; and manufacturers will require additional power and supplies of feedstocks.
John D. Siciliano
Posted April 30, 2020
Meeting short-term crude oil storage challenges has our industry looking at a number of measures to safely route and handle the surplus resulting from the demand decline tied to global efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.
API President and CEO Mike Sommers told CNBC that the industry is thinking outside the box to find “creative solutions” to ship and store an historic amount of oil beyond its usual means.
To be sure, there also are separate infrastructure challenges in getting crude oil to where there is storage. Many pipelines in the nation’s transportation network are full up or contracted – partly reflecting the country’s infrastructure needs that pre-date COVID-19. That’s a subject for a separate post. The fact remains industry is focused on finding storage as markets rebalance between supply and demand.
John D. Siciliano
Posted April 27, 2020
Enhancing engine protection and performance with the co-benefit of improving fuel economy in cars, trucks, and SUVs is what the public can expect when API’s new engine oil standards go into effect on May 1.
The 18th edition of the API 1509 engine oil standard – Engine Oil Licensing and Certification System (EOLCS) – is a product of industry’s continuous process of updating motor oil specifications to meet the demands of the marketplace and consumers.
For example, the new standard includes a conservation specification to improve fuel economy – in addition to keeping a vehicle’s emissions control systems in check – while also being able to account for the introduction of more renewable fuels into the gasoline supply. This means that oil bearing the API licensing mark can both boost the number of miles driven on a gallon of gasoline, while improving the overall performance of the engine, which is good for consumers and the environment alike.
Posted April 23, 2020
While the current decline in crude oil demand and market uncertainty present significant challenges, America’s natural gas and oil producers – especially those using hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling – are resilient and remain financially viable, supported by the world’s need for energy.
Contrary to some narratives, our industry is poised to fuel renewed growth once the U.S. and other nations get past the COVID-19 crisis. Natural gas and oil have and will again power modern economic expansion.
Posted April 21, 2020
Experienced industry hands say they’ve never seen anything like Monday’s trading on May futures contracts for West Texas Intermediate crude oil (WTI), which closed in negative territory.
While the natural gas and oil industry certainly isn’t alone in weathering the COVID-19 crisis, our impacts probably are more visible than most other sectors, underscored by Monday’s negative trading on oil futures. Three things to know ...